Aging: Ethnic roots a source of prideWhen I was a young-un, nationality was important. At least it was in my neck of the woods.
By: Bernie Hughes, The Daily Telegram
When I was a young-un, nationality was important. At least it was in my neck of the woods. In war time, if the farmer neighbor was of the nationality of the wartime enemy and of few years residence in the U.S., people would suspiciously wonder if their loyalty was truly to their new home country.
Maybe that hasn’t all washed away; maybe some recent immigrants are looked at with suspicion too. It is important for those recent immigrants to learn English as soon as possible which would help reduce such suspicion. I was surprised to learn that there are 17 Spanish-speaking radio stations in Los Angeles because of the large number of Spanish speaking immigrants. This is helpful to them in the short term but perhaps detrimental in the learning of English which should be an early effort.
But it seems to me that nationality has become much less important to most of us. I have an Irish cousin that is partial to Irish literature, customs, etc. He doesn’t have an O’ before his last name, nor do I, but I have been listed as O’Hughes a time or two. My favorite Irish cousin recently suggested that I obtain and read a copy of The Stoa of the Irish Race by Seumas MacManus. (Isn’t our Superior Public Library a dandy? They didn’t have a copy, but they got one for me from another public library in a very few days)
I won’t pretend that I’ve read all 737pages, but I wanted to share one small piece of it today. Cormac Mac Art was an ancient king in third century Ireland and was considered the greatest of letters. O’Flaherty says of Cormac, “His literary productions, still extant, show him a wonderful legislator and antiquarian.” (Old or rare books — I didn’t know either) And the following from Cormac telling his grandson what would be good for him to do if he wanted to become old and kingly:
Do not deride the old, though you are young;
Nor the poor, though you are wealthy;
Nor the lame, though you are swift,
Nor the blind, though you are given sight,
Nor the sick though you are strong,
Nor the dull, though you are clever,
Nor the foolish, though you are wise.
My Irish cousin has also given me books on the lighter side — explaining to me, in great detail, leprechauns, gnomes, goblins, trolls, etc. Irish folklore is always so enjoyable if you have the time for foolishness and a sense of humor.
Nationalism has a good side, we are all proud of our country in most respects. We are very proud of the positive results that patriotism engenders, but as citizens of a democracy we need to speak out as well when our national actions are not positive. Norman Cousins, former editor of “Saturday Review,” pointed out the greatest potential problem: “The greatest obsolescence of all in the Atomic Age is national sovereignty ... Nothing multiplies more easily than force... In its grossest and most lethal form, force is represented by groupings of people into nations. This makes a concentration of collective effort with a minimum of restraint and a maximum of fury.”
(If he were alive today, he’d likely say that our Iraq War was a good example)
Another noted figure put it this way: “At this moment, the strongest ideology in the world is nationalism. This atmosphere is not favorable to bringing about a world without war.”
And a concluding quotation in the lighter vein. Two songs — “the Star Spangled Banner” and “Melancholy Baby” — need to be rewritten. The first because very few can sing it, the second because everybody can.
Bernie Hughes, Ed.D., is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at Bernie1@cpinternet.com.